Learn to Organize Like a Pro
You wear many hats as a young entrepreneur. You’re a student, an athlete, a volunteer, a friend, a sibling, a child, and a CEO. Managing your time may seem like an impossible task, especially at the beginning and end of school years. Everyone feels overwhelmed at times, but it’s not the end of the world. There are easy things you can do to organize your time. And if following all these tips feels like yet one more thing on your plate that you have to do, pick one or two just to get started.
CATEGORIZE YOUR GOALS
Once a week – Sunday is best if you can – make a list of the things you hope to accomplish in the next 7 days. From that list, divide each task into one of three categories:
- Must Do
- Can Do
- Want to Do
For example, if you have an essay due in English on Wednesday, that’s a Must Do. College applications that aren’t due for another two months fall under Can Do. Scrolling through TikTok is definitely a Want to Do.
Keep in mind that Want to Dos aren’t frivolous. Downtime is important!
MAKE TIME FOR YOUR GOALS
Now that you have an idea of what needs to get done first (your Must Dos), create a timeframe for each goal. How long will that essay take you to do? Be realistic. If you know it usually takes you three hours to write an essay, and yours is due in 3 days, give yourself an hour each day to work on it. Your Can Dos should come next. Want to Dos are important for your peace of mind and overall health, but they should come after you’ve completed your Must Dos.
CREATE A SCHEDULE
Now add your goals to the parts of your schedule that don’t have anything else going on. Remember to include downtime! Scheduling study breaks and rest periods are important. Refueling your body and rebooting your brain will help you stay focused, improve your memory, and keep you physically healthy.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE APPS
Your device probably comes with free calendar and clock apps. Make use of those to set reminders for yourself with notifications. Give yourself plenty of time to stop what you’re doing and move on to the next task. Set a timer for both work and breaks so you don’t lose track of time.
Other free apps you can download and try:
By “outsourcing” your list of tasks and schedules, you’re freeing up valuable brain space for creativity and learning!
BREAK BIGGER GOALS DOWN INTO SMALLER TASKS
Let’s go back to that essay that’s due in English in three days. Even though you’ve written essays before and you have a fairly good grasp of what you want to write about, it can still seem daunting. Even professional writers get stuck.
Consider breaking the essay down into more manageable segments. This can look like:
- Brainstorm questions that need to be answered
- Research the answers
- Create an outline
- Write the first draft
- Edit the draft to turn in
- Write opening (50 words)
- Write first point and support it (300 words)
- Write second point and support it (300 words)
- Write third point and support it (300 words)
- Write conclusion (50 words)
In that second example, you’ve taken a 1,000-word essay and broken it down into 5 smaller tasks. By looking at something large as merely a series of small pieces, you trick your brain into feeling less overwhelmed.
BOUNDARIES: SET THEM, STICK TO THEM, RESPECT THEM
Distractions are everywhere. From friends texting you, to your parents expecting you to do chores, to siblings making noise around you, we know it can be difficult to focus on your Must Do list of tasks.
Create boundaries around your time and space. When others try to interfere with those boundaries, gently remind them that you are busy but will give them your full attention later. Unless something comes up that’s a real emergency, stick to your boundaries and your schedule. Having respect for your own time will encourage others to respect your time, as well. Bonus: clear and enforced boundaries are one of the secrets of entrepreneurial success!
ORGANIZE YOUR SPACE
Let’s be honest: teenagers are not known for being tidy. But when the space around you is organized, it helps your brain stay organized. It’s worth it to take a day or so and organize your bedroom or other workspace. This doesn’t mean throwing everything away, and you don’t need fancy bins or furniture.
Start with your closet. If you know where each piece of clothing is, you’ll save time getting dressed every morning. Some ideas for organizing your closet:
- By color
- From casual to formal
- By season
- Placing outfits together
- By use (putting clothes you wear the most often front and center)
When you know where things are and know where they belong, you’re much more likely to free up some precious time in your day.
IDENTIFY YOUR BEST TIME OF DAY
Some people are morning people, others are evening people. Most teenagers are likely to be evening people. Spend a few days tracking how you feel during each part of the day: morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and nighttime. Without sacrificing sleep, if you know you have your best brain time at night, schedule the tasks that require the most focus for those hours. That may mean streamlining your morning routine so you can get a few more minutes of sleep (see above, re: organizing your space for maximum morning efficiency). This will help you tackle your hardest tasks at a time when you are the most mentally prepared for them.
Learning how to prioritize your tasks and organize your day is another life skill that comes in handy as a young entrepreneur. Especially when you start college, knowing how to manage your time as efficiently as possible will put you ahead of your peers and give you a huge advantage!
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation, including our college scholarships for young entrepreneurs in Florida, by clicking here. We look forward to your application!